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Qualcomm Open to Selling FLO TV Unit

Sarah Thomas

SAN DIEGO -- Uplinq -- Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) never wanted to be the service provider behind its mobile FLO TV service, according to its CEO, Dr. Paul Jacobs. In fact, if the opportunity presented itself, it'd be open to selling off this underperforming unit of its business. "It's not likely that [Flo TV] will stay the way it is today, which is just cable TV content sold primarily through cellular operators," he told media at Qualcomm's Uplinq conference this week.

Qualcomm wants to be only the technology provider, its traditional mode of business, although Jacobs said he isn't afraid of assuming the service provider role to push a technology, as the company did for TD-LTE in India's Broadband Wireless Auction. (See Qualcomm Unveils LTE Plans for India.)

Jacobs said there are all sorts of possibilities that could happen; the company is willing to talk to potential partners or even buyers about assuming the service provider role. He also noted that Qualcomm is getting a lot of traction for its MediaFLO technology outside the US.

Datacasting apps
This isn't the only unanswered question about the future of the mobile TV service, though. Uplinq attendees also wondered whether datacasting, a broadcast technology that allows Qualcomm to deliver multimedia content without taxing the 3G network, would replace live, streaming content in Qualcomm's TV delivery.

Jacobs said that live content still has a place in the service, and that datacasting will just be an additional option for the content that consumers don't care to consume live. The technology is not ideal for personalized, one-to-one video, but it is efficient for use in broadcasting regularly scheduled, one-to-many media. The Wall Street Journal or a weekly magazine would be good candidates for datacasting, according to Vicki Mealer, senior director of product management for FLO TV and Qualcomm MediaFLO technologies.

Prior to this week's show, FLO TV announced a developers conference for Brew and Android to explore the potential of datacasting. Right now, FLO TV is a straightforward live mobile TV service that Qualcomm provides to carriers like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless and directly to consumers. But it's open to any number of new apps that might enhance the service without adding extra traffic to the network.

Especially with AT&T and, presumably, soon-to-be others tiering their data plans, Mealer said FLO TV will promote the message that it owns its own multicast network and, therefore, doesn't count towards any data caps. With the onslaught of video apps, caps are likely to become a concern for consumers. (See 5 Mobile Apps That Bust Data Caps and CTIA 2010: Qualcomm's Tony Lutz.)

"Users are used to YouTube or CNN, and most don't even know what 200 megabytes gets you," she said, adding that people don't often know the difference between a service that uses data and one that doesn't -- something FLO TV hopes to make clear.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:30:55 PM
re: Qualcomm Open to Selling FLO TV Unit

Could be a nice little earner for them if they can sell off the spectrum too.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:30:52 PM
re: Qualcomm Open to Selling FLO TV Unit

The terrestrial mobile Tv services have always had a serious handicap- that of requiring a tuner in the phone. Unfortunately, vendors did not see reason enough to include these in their new releases such as the IPhone4. This means that millions of devices continue to be sold which have no capability for terrestrial reception. One reason has been the patronage of new devices by Telecom carriers which have interest in the usage of their networks rather than off the network usage.

It is not only the US which has been struggling with terrestrial Mobile TV. In Europe the story is similar, with DVB-H failing in country after country and Spain having said "No" to mobile TV so far as terrestrial allocations are concerned.


In any event, time is now running out on terrestrial mobile TV. When LTE comes in, the capacity on networks will be enough for all. And it will not require special phones But mobile TV, on the 3G and LTE networks is set to grow exponentially.


User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:30:46 PM
re: Qualcomm Open to Selling FLO TV Unit

Does the smartphone available in Indian market able to tune in LTE broadcast , also 10 Mhz LTE deployment sufficient for this service. Being a media content loving society this could be a different ARPU scenario for operators.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:30:46 PM
re: Qualcomm Open to Selling FLO TV Unit

Does 20MHz or 10Mhz LTE deployment sufficient for Mobile TV broadcast.

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